“We are grateful, we give thanks,” West Tisbury poet laureate Justen Ahren read during Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the West Tisbury Free Public Library’s expansion and renovation project. After nearly five years of planning, grant applications, and fundraising, construction on the new building will begin next month. A large crowd gathered in the courtyard of the library to celebrate the big day.

State Rep. Tim Madden gets his hands dirty at ceremony o Wednesday. — Ivy Ashe

Mr. Ahren was one of a lineup of speakers that featured state rep. Timothy Madden and Massachusetts board of libraries commissioner Katherine Dibble, along with local faces Cynthia Mitchell (a town selectman), Leah Smith, Barbara Day and Hunter Moorman. The Dunkl brothers provided festive brass music throughout the ceremony.

Later in the day, a mini-groundbreaking took place for the children’s library. Though the crowd was smaller, it was no less enthusiastic, as youngsters wearing brightly colored hard hats dug into the mound of dirt with gusto.

The newly expanded library is expected to open in late 2013 or early 2014.